Breeds 101: The Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkie is a small and independent breed.

As expected from the name, Yorkies came from the region of northern England known as Yorkshire. They are a fairly early breed as far as history goes, reliably dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.

The average Yorkie is around 7-8 inches tall and weighs seven pounds or less, and they live very long lives for dogs – anywhere from 11 to 20 years.

According to the American Kennel Club Breed Standard, in the ideal Yorkie “the body is neat, compact and well proportioned,” and “the dog’s high head carriage and confident manner should give the appearance of vigor and self-importance.”

Yorkies are known for their glossy, shiny coats, which would make them perfect models for shampoo commercials.

They are classified into the Toy Group in AKC dog shows, and the AKC requires a docked tail for showing purposes.

A now-extinct relative of the Skye Terrier, and perhaps the Maltese, were involved in creating the breed, but as the first breeders were common (and likely illiterate) people unused to keeping detailed records of such things, no one is completely sure.

For some time, “anything with the shape of a Terrier and a long coat” was considered a Yorkshire Terrier, according to the 1891 work The American Book of the Dog, by P.H. Combs.

But that began to change in the late 1860s with a dog named Huddlesfield Ben, who was considered so excellent that he soon became the model for all Yorkshire dogs, and so with him as a common ancestor, the ideal Yorkie became standardized into something like we know it today.

They were first brought to America in 1872 and recognized by the AKC in 1885. As nearly everything in Victorian England became popular in America as well, the Yorkie exploded in popularity during this time.

Yorkies’ coats are not hypoallergenic, but they do shed much less than most other breeds, so it’s possible that someone with dog allergies would be able to tolerate them.

In termperament, the breed is curious, active, and a touch overprotective. They are also very talkative and individualistic, but are generally very adaptable to changes in environment.

Because they’re so tiny, Yorkies can be easily injured by falling off furniture or being accidentally stepped on, and they don’t do well with anesthesia. Dental problems can occur due to their small mouths.

In puppyhood some Yorkies may suffer from hypoglycemia, though most grow out of it by the time they’re adults.

Smoky was a Yorkie found in the jungle of New Guinea during World War II by photojournalist Bill Wynne, who became perhaps the first recorded therapy dog, in addition to many other useful wartime tasks and national celebrity the war was over.

First Lady Patricia Nixon had a Yorkie named Pasha during her time in the White House.

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